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Creative heavyweight James Cloete joins RAPT as Chief Creative Officer

Creative heavyweight, maverick thinker and serial business starter, James Cloete, has joined RAPT Creative as Chief Creative Officer. Cloete, who burst onto the scene while still studying at Vega, joined the agency beginning May.

James’ early achievements have become the stuff of industry lore: while interns at Harrison Human, he and his art director created an ad for Beith Digital that won a Student Gold at the Loerie Awards, a third place at the Creative Circle’s Ad of the Year and a Silver at the New York Festivals.

Legendary, too, is the pace at which he has wound his way through the industry. He formally started his career at Sonnenberg Murphy Leo Burnett, then cut his teeth at NetworkBBDO before joining The Jupiter Drawing Room as a creative director. At 29 he was headhunted by FCB to take on his first executive creative director position, after which came partnerships in 7dks and PangeaUltima respectively, followed by stints at Wunderman South Africa, M&C Saatchi Abel and Brave Group. These, in turn, were followed by another bout of entrepreneurship via GUN, a creative consultancy, and the production agency, CONTENT:).

‘James’ energy and passion are what attracted us to him,’ said RAPT Creative CEO Garreth van Vuuren. ‘We are an agency that prizes talent and creativity above all else, and we were inspired by James’ journey. For example, while at Leo Burnett, he worked predominantly on the Coca-Cola account where he co-created a piece of digital content called “Mr Bowl”. This won him his first three Gold Loeries … and in the same year he won his first Loerie Grand Prix for a campaign for Africare and AIDS prevention.’

Van Vuuren continued, ‘During his time at FCB Joburg, the agency ranked consistently within the top five creative agencies, winning numerous awards locally and internationally, as well as the AdFocus and AdReview Agency of the Year titles. Their work for Coca-Cola at the time ran in 89 countries, whilst their work for Toyota was consistently South Africa’s most loved.

‘At 7dks, the only branded entertainment agency at the time, he helped to double the size of the business and added several trophies to the cabinet, including a much-prized Golden Horn from the SAFTA Awards. A particular highlight was the creation of Africa’s most viewed branded YouTube channel for DHL.

‘Across all levels of the business – strategy, media planning, media buying and content creation – our product is creativity. With James at the helm as Group CCO, we have no doubt our already consistently good creative product will reach new heights,’ said van Vuuren.

RAPT Creative was named Adfocus’ Small Agency of the Year for 2022. The agency’s proactive approach and growth through the pandemic and lockdowns most certainly contributed to this win.

‘The synergy between RAPT’s senior management team members and me is phenomenal. We share a desire to develop ourselves and our team to be the best that we can be, an all-consuming commitment to creativity and a belief that work should be fun,’ said Cloete.

‘RAPT Creative is the most exciting and successful new player on the block. While established agencies have had to reengineer themselves to stay relevant or simply keep their doors open amidst the shifts and changes within the industry and the public sphere at large, RAPT was born in and for this new world. Their rise has been nothing short of meteoric and it’s just the start.’

‘My love affair with advertising started when I was 16 years old, and it continues to flourish. I’m obsessed with this wonderful world of insights, ideas and applied creativity and feel blessed to be able to participate in it every day. In Garreth, I’ve found someone as obsessed as I am. I can’t wait to get stuck in at RAPT and add a page or two to this already great South African success story.’

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